Sunday, November 9, 2008

#59 Impressions.

Most piano teachers have favorite students. Their impression of what kind of persons their student is has a big influence on a lot of what happens during a lesson. Good teachers try as much as they can not to let their prejudices with a student show, but it's hard. At the very least, you have students whom you look forward to and students that make you think "it's seven pm already? ugh, I just want to go home."

As a student, remember that your piano teacher only sees you one or two hours each week. What he sees in those couple of hours makes up his opinion of you, and considering that his opinion has a huge influence on the dynamics of each lesson, you should make sure you are at your best during that couple of hours. If you are at your music school, also be extra careful not to fool around too much on the piano if your teacher might be around to listen. You might be a very hard-working person, and just want to let off some steam, but if the two or three times your teacher happened to listen to you practice, you were playing something completely different from what you are supposed to be working on, or just goofing around, playing extra loud or extra fast that might give him the impression that you do that all the time.

I made that mistake with one of my teachers when I was younger. During my first lessons with her, I didn't bother to dress up a bit before class, and I showed up with some ripped sneakers and patched up pants to some classes. Later, she had the unshakable conviction that I was extremely poor, and she kept offering money and to pay for my bus fare.

The impression you make around your teachers is very important, you don't want them to get the wrong idea about you into their heads.


  1. I don't know know if the ripped clothing incident is laughable, I always had the impression that yes, the clothing you wear indicates you to a certain extent ... still ... I mean when I was younger (8 years old) I used to dress up at lessons, sometimes in a fairly-tale character. I felt like a princess playing the piano, it was a kid thing to do, my teacher would comment sometimes and she'd think it was cute ... still I don't think it really left much of an impression on her.

    I don't dress up now (I'm in my mid teen years), but on the weekends when I don't have school I would sometimes wear church clothes or jeans ... I mean, what I am getting at, is that I think male teachers (that are heterosexual) tend to not pay much attention to attire. You are a male and not gay ... would you agree?

    Another thing, I think I get along with my teachers really well. Can you tell what sort of an impression teachers have with the students through conduct? (this is from the perspective of a student)

  2. This is an important element, alright! After all, what teacher is going to spend hours on a student that spends seconds practicing the 'real' stuff. However, some students do turnaround - but typically when they start being outdone by their peers. To have some sort of piano party or 'master class' (mini class?) would have students in the reverse situation of proving themselves pianists and actually performing what they have been supposedly working on for months. The closer the master classes are to each other, the better, imo. It isn't just playing in front of the teacher that would be embarrassing - it's all those peers. That will get them going! imo. And, well, there's always pop songs (yikes, did i say that?) Susan

  3. Peer pressure is a great tool, specially with teenagers. The thing they care most about at that age is what their friends think of them. When I feel a student is starting to slack, I go out into the hallway of our school, find a few of his friends and pull them into our classroom so he can do a whole run-through of his repertoire. If its a disaster, at least I know that will set him off practicing like crazy. (although this might be pretty evil on my part)

  4. That's a great idea - because at least he/she knows they are friends and yet it will give him/her a chance to feel the 'nerves' and see if they can manage without too much breakdown. It's a great technique assuming that the student is jolly about it. Don't want them crying. Perhaps warning them ahead of time would be good. 'Next week we are going to have a practice performance where I will select three students outside the door to randomly come in and listen....' if that sounds good to you. Then, you have built up trust as to what will happen and there are not really any surprises. If the student doesn't practice enough - the embarrassment is expected. However, perhaps students will call in ill when they are not ready then?